Experts use Plainfield house fire that killed 6-year-old as example for sprinkler legislation

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PLAINFIELD--A tragedy has led to a new campaign to keep people safe.

On September 21, 6-year-old Isabella Patterson was killed in a fire in her Plainfield house, and her mother, Jeannette Lawyea, suffered serious burns. The family, which also includes Isabella's father, Anthony Patterson, and another young child, had just moved in to the home a few months earlier after it was built for them by Habitat for Humanity.

The home had passed all inspections and was up to code before the family moved in earlier this year, but the deadly fire still happened when a kitchen appliance malfunctioned. Though it passed inspections, the home did not have fire sprinklers, which experts recommend.

Experts have been pushing for legislation to require sprinklers in all new homes, which would have saved Isabella, but the state Legislature has failed to adopt the bill when updating the state's building code. A new push is going on for the next legislative session.

Experts say that during a house fire you have less than three minutes to escape, but fire sprinklers can put out a blaze in less than 90 seconds.